The first stage of the federal government’s review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule has recommended the removal of 23 MBS items (of 5,700 in total) from a handful of specialities

These include -

  • Diagnostic imaging – 7 items
  • Ear, nose, and throat surgery – 9 items
  • Gastroenterology – 5 items
  • Obstetrics – 1 item
  • Thoracic medicine – 1 item

These MBS items were used a combined total of 52,500 times in 2014-15, and were worth $6.8 million in Medicare benefits paid, according to Health Minister Sussan Ley.

Before the ink was dry on the proposal - and well in advance of a possibly hostile Senate considering the measures next year - the Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) statement had drawn considerable flak from key health industry bodies.

Changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule for diagnostic imaging and pathology bulk-billing incentives would save more than $650 million over four years. The pathology incentive is currently paid at $1.40 to $3.40 per patient, with bulk-billing currently at 87.6 per cent.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the incentive, which had cost taxpayers half a billion dollars since 2009-10, did not work, with bulk billing rates increasing just 1 per cent during that time. 

The NRGPN has relaunched its MyChoice package for general practitioners managing terminal care patients. The package focuses on the needs of patients and their carers and recommends a whole of practice approach. 

Details can be found at the NRGPN's website supporting the North Coast Integrated Care Collaborative


Outgoing director of the University Centre for Rural Health, Professor Lesley Barclay AO.

Calling 2015 the best of the seven years spent as Director of the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast, Professor Lesley Barclay AO has announced she will step down from the position at the end of January 2016.

According to Prof Barclay, the past 12 months was the time when all the hopes and plans she held for The University of Sydney-backed organization came together. These included the important goal of consolidating a regional university department of rural health that works closely with the Northern NSW Local Health District to make a real difference in the quality of health care in the Northern Rivers.

Over the last two decades the rates of obese and overweight women in Australia has doubled. The NHMRC conducted a survey in 2007/2008 (published 2010) revealing that 30.9% of the female Australian population were overweight (BMI 25-30 kg/m2) and 24% were obese (BMI> 30 kg/m2). The metabolic effects of excess adipose tissue contributed to ill health independent of the increased fatty tissue itself. 

The role of adipose tissue is to produce various hormones (e.g. Leptin, Resisitin) and cytocines (e.g. tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6) which have the ability to interact with many organ systems. Excess adipose tissue affects these usually helpful intercellular messengers and contributes significantly to the development of chronic diseases, affecting health and well being.

Obesity affects men and women differently, with women having the higher risk for some of the diseases listed below. In addition, they have the burden of illnesses specific to obese females.